In my family, the lead up to Christmas is fraught with anxiety about bringing all the family together. Grandad won’t come if Gran does. Uncle doesn’t speak to Grandad, and step-mothers and fathers bring their own level of complications. Not quite the postcard-perfect holiday.
Because of this, last year I decided to spend a few hours on Christmas day helping at a soup kitchen which was providing Christmas dinner to people who had no friends or family to share the day with. I’m not going to lie: my reasons for doing this were purely selfish. I wanted to remove myself from the dramas of my own family. However, it did end up being one of the best things that I have ever done at Christmas.
After serving everybody their meal, I was free to join the table to hear everybody’s Christmas tales. The elderly lady on my left proudly showed me countless photos of her family who had all moved to Australia now, while the recovering alcoholic on my left struggled to remember the ages of his children. The woman sitting across from me told inspirational stories about bringing up her child completely alone with very little money, while her seven year old tucked into her many pigs-in-blankets.
After helping with the cleaning up, I returned home to enjoy my own Christmas dinner. I was able to share the stories of my inspiring day with my family over the Christmas pudding and mulled wine. I could also now laugh at Grandad’s constant bitterness, Uncle’s refusal to speak and Mum’s over-exaggerated fake smile throughout it all. I was just happy to have a family to be with. Plus, it really wouldn’t be Christmas night without Mum and I moaning about everybody over a large glass of wine after they have all left.
Words: Delanie Clarke, Picture: Melissa Reid
(Published Devember 2012)document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);